A THREE-DIMENSIONAL MODEL OF THE BEAUFORT SEA

Shiao-Kung Liu, Jan J. Leendertse

Abstract


The Beaufort Sea borders the northern coasts of the United States and Canada. During the last decade, oil discovered at the Prudhoe Bay field contributes a substantial amount of the petroleum needs of the U.S. At present, it represents approximately 20 percent of the total domestic production. However, according to estimates made by the Department of the Interior, gas and oil lie under the Alaskan coastal waters (mainly in the Beaufort Sea) accounts for about 40 percent of the total domestic reserve. To assist government agencies in their assessment of offshore oil exploration, the authors have been engaged, during the past nine years, in three-dimensional modeling work of the the Alaskan coastal area (Fig. 1). Results from the modeling work involving the Bering Sea and the Chukchi Sea have been reported at an earlier conference (Ref. 1). This paper describes the formulation, coupling, and other essential aspects of the Beaufort Sea model (Fig. 2). The Beaufort Sea, occupying a larger portion of the Alaskan coastal water, is dynamically interactive with other modeled areas. Most importantly, the exchange of water mass with the Chukchi Sea interconnects the Bering Sea through the Bering Strait (Fig. 3). Under certain weather conditions, ice in the Beaufort Sea can be transported toward the Bering Sea by an "ice breakout" process through the Bering Strait.

Keywords


3D model; Beaufort Sea

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